About A Bleistift FOR EVERYONE GmbH

  • Founders: Maren Reisner
  • Founded in: 2018
  • Employees: 3; including me and an army of volunteers
  • Money raised: 20.000 euro
  • Ultimate goal: There is no end goal. We just keep going, so that we can give as many children as possible joy and confidence for the future through our educational projects.

Christmas is the time of conviviality and enjoying time together. But it is also a time of introspection and reflection on the well-being of the world. Not everyone has it so good. Fortunately there are plenty of people who like to do something for the less fortunate. This week before Christmas, Innovation Origins is putting the spotlight on a number of start-ups whose core business is the welfare of their fellow human beings. Read also the other stories.

Attending school isn’t the problem for many children in poor countries. But learning materials are. This is sometimes a complete disaster. Maren Reisner’s start-up aBleistift FOR EVERYONE is helping to change that.

How did you came up with the idea for a Bleistift FOR EVERYBODY?

“In 2016, my husband, our three children and I made a world trip. We wanted to show our children what the world is really like, to get a picture of the different cultures, countries and religions in various countries. We visited the most diverse, exciting and extraordinary development projects, for example, in Tanzania, Nepal and Cambodia. We were surprised by the fact that it was basically possible for children to attend school in most of the developing countries that we visited. However, the local school conditions were often catastrophic. Dilapidated buildings, too few and often poorly trained teachers, too many children per class, lack of money even for simple teaching materials such as pencils, pads and books.”

Maren Reisner

“The idea came to us when our children visited a school in Canada for a few weeks. We were amazed to see the terrific amount of civic engagement that many students had there, even at a young age. Back in Germany, I founded aBleistift FOR EVERYONE. In addition to fundraising, I wanted to produce and sell something that a lot of people need again and again, and where the very purchase of something contributes to the company’s social mission. The note pad and pencil were an obvious choice to support education.”

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How does it work?

“We finance our educational projects through donations, grants, social sponsoring and the sale of note pads and pencils. For every pencil sold, one pencil goes to a child in a in a developing country, and for every note pad sold, US$1 is spent as a donation to one of our educational projects.”

What difficulties did you face when starting up the company?

“Finding a suitable note block maker. School note blocks are rarely customized and so the market of suppliers is rather small and the minimum quantities really quite high. The pencil manufacturer was quickly found. With our note block manufacturer BRUNNEN & EILERS Promotion Service GmbH & Co. KG, as well as with our pencil manufacturer Reidinger GmbH, we are very satisfied and are grateful to have found such good and approachable partners.”

What have you achieved so far?

We have founded two schools in Pakistan in brick villages and brought many children out of child labor and into education that way. At the port of Cebu City in the Philippines, we run an education project to keep children in education despite corona and the closure of schools, and to provide them with a safe place where they can simply be carefree children.

In the Igoma C Primary School government school, which we are supporting, we are constantly improving the teaching and learning conditions by providing drinking water and electricity, repairing buildings and furniture and building new classrooms. We also provide support in the form of materials and school uniforms.

ABleistift

In Nepal, we support two schools in the Himalayan Mountains. Without donations, these schools would not be able to exist in the long term, and often the learning conditions are extremely poor. In these cases, many children do not go to school at all or have to leave home at a young age to attend school in the nearest big city. Apart from the fact that most families cannot afford to go to school in the city, this leads to an uprooted generation that is not at home in the mountains nor in the big city. We want to avoid this by providing them with support. In addition, we have many cooperations with schools here in Germany, we give lectures and encourage students to become civically engaged.”

What does the future hold?

“We want to become better known and continue to grow. Meanwhile, a Bleistift FOR EVERYONE has a European trademark. By selling college note pads and pencils, we can pay a large part of our administrative costs. This sets us apart from most fundraising organizations. This way, we are able to pass on the donations to the projects in the developing countries with only a small deduction.”

Education is the most sustainable way to tackle together the many problems of our time,”

Maren Reisner, CEO aBleistift FOR EVERYONE

“We hope that in the future many companies and organisations will replace disposable pens in meetings, at congresses and trade fairs with our sustainable pencils and show their commitment to social issues through our individually designed note pads. We work with entire schools as part of our commitment to corporate responsibility. Civic engagement is becoming more and more important for companies and we are happy to work out individual concepts together with companies, no matter if it is a one-off or a continuous donation.

We would like to give more and more children in developing countries a better chance for a self-determined life through education. In addition, our goal is that fewer and fewer children in this world have to work and more and more can attend school. Education is the most sustainable way to tackle together the many problems of our time.”

About the author

Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.